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KSJD Newscast - February 26th, 2016

  • Communities in the Animas and San Juan River watersheds preparing for dirtier water in coming weeks as snow melt stirs up toxic metals from last year's Gold King Mine waste spill.

Communities in the Animas and San Juan River watersheds are preparing for dirtier water in coming weeks. As the unusually large El Niño snowpack melts in Colorado’s mountains, surging waters are expected to stir up toxic heavy metals lying beneath the two rivers, the primary water source for some communities in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and the Navajo Nation. In a release, New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn says different entities are working on synchronized monitoring and response protocols. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency triggered last summer’s release of some 440 tons of metals through an accidental blowout of impounded water at the Gold King Mine near Silverton. The New Mexico Environment Department says City of Farmington testing has found a correlation between increases in turbidity and in total lead in the Animas River. Total metal concentrations have not been found to violate EPA standards, but the department warns that regional water systems must watch out for the accumulation of metals in their treatment equipment. On Monday, the Silverton Town Board and the San Juan County, Colorado, Commission unanimously supported Superfund status for a historic mining area that includes as many as 50 mines contaminating waterways.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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